OK, so if *you* were in charge of school holidays, what would you do . . .

(153 Posts)
Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 09:49:55

My plan if I were dictator for life Education Secretary:

1) Give all dc an extra 3 weeks of holiday, 2 of them at the start of the summer hols (ie break up start July),

2) The other extra week goes to break up the long autumn term, so a longer (say 10 days) half term early-mid oct, then a long weekend with 2 days hols end november.

3) Sorry, teachers, but then all school have to offer 3 x 1 week summer camp in the long summer holidays.

4) These are optional, so if parents want their dc can have the full 8 weeks. The weeks are mainly extension activities like you get at the end of term. So eg primaries might do a sports week, a storytelling/drama week, a craft week. Secondaries might offer some academic options (eg study skills week for those going into 6th form, catch up maths etc), and some fun stuff again like end of term weeks.

I'm sure there's all sorts of problems with this (!) but I reckon (a) working parents don't have any longer childcare to arrange, and (b) it would break up the summer holidays for those that need without getting rid of the option of a long break for those that it suits.

Obviously it is more work for teachers, particularly in the first few years but I guess the pay-off is that you'd probably only have about half the dc there (maybe less in some schools? I suspect few would do all 3 weeks) and it would give a bit of 'time off' from the curriculum to do fun stuff.

What would you all do? (Especially if you are a teacher grin )

my2bundles Wed 31-Jul-13 10:04:30

For the sake of my individual childrens needs. My youngest needs no more than 4 weeks summer holiday, 2 weeks to go away and 2 weeks to play. We are only part way thro week 2 and already he is ready to be back in school. My eldest needs 2 weeks as she is at the lower end of the autistic spexctrum and needs the routime of school. The extra 2 weeks for my youn gest should be added onto the halfterms, not sure about my eldest, she finds school hols difficult to cope with.

NotAnotherPackedLunch Wed 31-Jul-13 10:08:38

I like the idea.
Would it also mean that all the faffing around and wasting time for the last week or two of term could be moved into the three weeks of optional activity weeks?

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 10:19:37

That was my thought, notanotherpackedlunch - it would make the relaxed fun weeks optional, IYSWIM. Hopefully it would also cut down termtime holidays as there'd be a longer timeframe for legit hols.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 10:20:33

Agree it wouldn't help children that need routine though. DD loves organised but different stuff (she's doing a drama week through a local club) so it would suit her.

Manchesterhistorygirl Wed 31-Jul-13 10:23:17

I'd give them an extra week at Christmas. Two days at the start and five at the end, IMO kids go back as knackered as they finished because Christmas is a very busy holiday.

I'd give them ten days in October and dr Easter to ten days instead of two weeks.

Sounds like a great idea- would be nice to be able to sign up flexibly for last two weeks - eg can do sports day but leave the music day if your child likes one not the other. It also means that one dc could have a fun day off one day with you and another dc another day. Nightmare to organise for the staff though who can't even give more than a week notice for class assembly -not knowing who would turn up.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 10:32:56

Good point about organisation - I was thinking of it more like a summer camp where you'd sign your dc up in advance for the week?

EndoplasmicReticulum Wed 31-Jul-13 10:36:33

Teacher here.

Sounds alright to me. I like the idea of the fun stuff. However you'd need to make sure all schools did this, otherwise it would be a nightmare for those with children in different schools, or teachers with childen in different schools.

Bear in mind that teachers are paid for a certain number of days per year, so if you want them to work more then their pay would have to go up.

Newcupboards Wed 31-Jul-13 10:37:43

I think it's ridiculous that school buildings are left empty whilst some parents struggle to cover childcare or find enough activities to keep kids occupied.

If I were Education Secretary I would make (and provide some funding for) schools to turn into Summer Clubs during the holidays. They could be run by a rota of teachers, students teachers, TAs, parents.

I love having DD home for 6 weeks but I don't have to worry about childcare. I'd bung her in the School Club for a day or so a week though, if she wanted to go.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 10:40:15

YY to it happening at the same time in all schools. The plan would be that you wouldn't gain any more days work, IYSWIM - the weeks 'camp' would be balanced out by extra hols.

Agree with Newcupboards that in any event it would be great to have summer clubs run within the schools in the hols (not by teachers in that case). I'm self employed so can work round holidays, but it would be great to have the option of 1/2 days a week suitable activity for a child too old for cm but bored at home alone

my2bundles Wed 31-Jul-13 10:42:24

newcupboards, schools building are not left empty, some are hired out to sports clubs and summer play shemes. They also need some time to close so deep cleaning and maintenance can take place which cannot be done whilst pupils are in school. Also school caretakers also need to take their holidays as most are not allowed to take leave during term time.

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 10:53:58

I think the huge summer break is a bad idea.

I think that it is too long a break for smaller kids as they forget so much. I also think that too much time is spent doing end of term stuff at the end of the summer, so that children basically spend the last two weeks not really learning very much. The start back in the Autumn term is then a real strain on both teachers & children as they all try to get back in gear again.

The summer holidays are also a nightmare for working parents who have 6/7 weeks of childcare to pay for all at one time of the year.

So, I would like to see 4 longer but equal length breaks during the year & forget half terms.

During the breaks, local schools would have a rota system for being used, as I appreciate that the holidays need to be used for refurbishment. External, approved kid camp operators would use the school facilities for camps. There should be a variety of these, so you have sports camps, music camps, techy/IT camps and craft camps.

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 10:56:00

Sorry, not clear what I mean.

I would like to see 4 breaks during the year of about 3/4 weeks duration - so that you get the same amount of time off but it is more equally split in terms of duration and through out the year.

mystaplerisevil Wed 31-Jul-13 11:04:01

i used to work in a summer club in a school , council cut it though! blame lack of subsidised schemes on the cuts!

I think people always forget how much fun they had during the long school hols as children, they need to the time to just be kids, not forced by the national curriculum to learn what the government deems important.

the lack of holiday care is one thing that the local cuts really have affected here it's such a shame sad

GrimmaTheNome Wed 31-Jul-13 11:08:37

My 14yo DD has said she'd actually like two weeks less in summer - just time for a weeks slobbing around reading , a couple of weeks holiday and a week at an activity camp. She'd then like an extra week at xmas and an extra week added to the May halfterm (ie into June) - that's when the weather is often nice in the UK.

But she could see that everyone having just 4 weeks at the same time would make the situation re holiday pricing/availability even worse.

I quite like the sound of your idea, Takver, but it might be a bit long off proper schoolwork. Summer camps held on school premises are a great idea anyway - DDs primary (private) did a really good holiday club - it was actually run by two former teachers from the school, who specialised in PE and Art so there was a good mix of activities. Probably better if teachers aren't expected to do it as part of their regular duties - some might like to do it if they were paid extra for it and they had a particular enthusiasm.

Problem presumably is cost - the camps would have to be free for FSM pupils and subsidised for others I'd have thought. The greatest need is in the poorest areas.

SuffolkNWhat Wed 31-Jul-13 11:11:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CockyFox Wed 31-Jul-13 11:24:53

I love the big holidays, I loved them as a child and love them now. I don't think making them longer is a good idea though and both my DCs would hate holiday clubs or optional extra fun weeks. My youngest doesn't start until September but my eldest certainly hates the last week of term - he loves school but doesn't want to sit in a classroom watching a film or having directed fun, he likes to invent his own games and have freedom to swap and change between them frequently.

I honestly think the holidays are just right for us as I am at home but I can't imagine they are lots of fun for children having a few days here a few days there.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 11:25:02

I guess what puts me off the longer holidays at other times is that we live in the countryside so there isn't much to do with dc when the weather is bad. Summer is relatively easy for us.

PrettyBelle Wed 31-Jul-13 12:03:22

Speaking of schools having to run holiday clubs in those extra three weeks - I am assuming they won't be free though? I have two school aged chidlren and work full-time, so during holidays they go to SCL which charge £23 per child for the extended day. It is really cheap but - multiply it by 2 DC and then by 5 days a week and we are looking at extra £200+ to spend PER WEEK.

So unless those extra 3 weeks come with three childcare - sorry, I'd rather my DC went to school where they have enough fun activities.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 12:14:35

I was assuming that they would be free - as they would basically be school weeks moved to the holidays IYSWIM.

GW297 Wed 31-Jul-13 12:19:15

Independent schools have 8 week summer holidays, 2 week October half terms and often 3 weeks+ at Easter already.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 12:26:35

Its actually that which made me think about it, GW297 - we live in a holiday town, and from early July we see all the private school families with dc on holiday while ours have 2 weeks + more at school.

Helpyourself Wed 31-Jul-13 12:35:15

What you describe is pretty much what Private Schools do holiday-wise. And the parents send them to holiday camps/ craft camps/sports daycamp and when they're older arrange work experience and internships.

GW297 Wed 31-Jul-13 14:18:34

Independent schools do longer school days as they tend to start earlier and finish later than state schools though.

Runningchick123 Wed 31-Jul-13 14:26:09

Most private schools have 7 or 8 weeks summer holidays and 2 weeks in October and usually 2 weeks in May as well as 2 weeks at easter and christmas which I think breaks up the year nicely. State schools should consider following this pattern but you would get complaints about the cost of childcare and the cost of feeding children during the extra holidays (for people whose children get free school meals).
Looking at the private schools in my local area they all have 4 weeks more holidays than the state schools each year yet they still get much better exam results. The private schools do average an extra half hour of teaching time each day, but its worth trading that for extra holidays in my opinion.
I do think that some children with learning disabilities would benefit from shorter holidays though due to the struggles that they have with the change in routine and the need for continuity.

DadOnIce Wed 31-Jul-13 14:32:32

Who would work in the summer clubs? Would they be staffed by teachers and TAs? If so, extra funding for the extra hours would need to be taken into account.

This also applies to any proposal anyone might suggest on here which involves a reduction of the holidays (and hence an increase in term days). Even one day more of term is 7-10 extra employee days to fund just for a small primary school. Multiply that by several thousand up and down the country.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 14:35:00

DadonIce - my suggestion is that the summer club weeks are matched exactly by extending the holidays. So no difference in hours worked.

DadOnIce Wed 31-Jul-13 14:38:54

OK, but it will also mean that teachers have even less flexibility in choosing their holiday times. Most teachers (I imagine) are parents too!

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 14:41:18

DadOnIce, round my way summer clubs are staffed by a wide mixture of people; students, teachers & TAs, sports coaches etc. I would imagine that the summer clubs would be fee paying - with vouchers being available in a similar way for those on paid for school lunches.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 14:42:50

DadOnIce - I guess it would be the same as splitting the terms & having more shorter holidays (obviously teachers would probably then need to use the 'summer camp' weeks).

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 14:44:07

DadOnIce - all parents are stuffed in terms of flexibility, not just teachers. Those who work are even more stuffed. I get 25 days a year that I have to take in school holidays!!!!!!

soverylucky Wed 31-Jul-13 14:45:57

I would have 5 weeks off in the summer and move the extra week to the Christmas holidays.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 14:48:36

Now the one holiday that I wouldn't want longer is Christmas. I'd much rather have 1 week before Christmas (we usually break up here around the 23rd) to enjoy the lead-up time, and 1 week after, going back on the 2nd when everyone goes back to work. I find that final week very slow especially in bad weather.

DadOnIce Wed 31-Jul-13 14:49:20

Well, in theory (until the recent clampdown from the OberGovenFuehrer) a lot of parents in other jobs have always had flexibility to take children out of school in term-time for cheaper holidays. Kids whose parents are teachers don't have that option. Just saying!

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 15:00:01

Hmmm, I've never taken my kids out during term time, as I value their education and want them to as well.

If we are just saying what we personally want, then I'd like to see children at school for 47 weeks of the year but just make school a far broader educational experience. Schools would only be closed for one week a year over Christmas & New Year but children could be taken out at any time for up to 5 weeks for their holidays.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 15:03:32

I definitely wouldn't be keen on that one, Bugsy. I like to have more time to do stuff with dd that I think is valuable, but that school can't really provide.

Rufus43 Wed 31-Jul-13 15:04:38

I would let the schools choose a floating holiday week within the term ( just one a year) to try and enable cheaper holidays

PostBellumBugsy Wed 31-Jul-13 15:14:54

Takver, its only my personal dream because I work full-time.

I'd love to see a broader education, with gardening, DIY, household financial planning, cooking, needlework, pet care, car maintenance, map reading, outdoor survival all included as core subjects.

I'd also like to see much more opportunities given to play musical instruments and do a wider range of sports such as ballet, dance, gymnastics, fencing, etc. Not just football, netball & rounders.

I think that if more kids spent more time at school & the curriculum were much broader that it would even out life chances much more.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 16:46:50

I'd definitely agree with the broader curriculum smile

MrsSalvoMontalbano Wed 31-Jul-13 16:57:32

PostBellumBugsy Completely agree!

ivykaty44 Wed 31-Jul-13 17:02:36

ilike the op's suggestion of the last two weeks of summer term being optional and would add that could be for staff and pupils

jellycake Wed 31-Jul-13 17:09:34

People seem to be forgetting that teachers have children too!
Don't like Bugsy's idea at all. Teachers wouldn't be allowed leave for up to 5 weeks to take their children on holiday! I agree that 4 weeks in the summer is more than ample and would like to see the rest of the holidays more equally distributed especially as the autumn term has been/ is going to be horrendously long, two weeks at the end of October and an extra week at Xmas would be great.

minderjinx Wed 31-Jul-13 17:18:04

I wouldn't want more time off in the winter months (or even spring or autumn). Heating the house all day for extra weeks would work out very expensive for working parents who usually turn off the heating during the day. I'd like to see the summer break longer, and it might help to spread the demand for holidays and hopefully reduce peak prices a bit. Shortening the summer break would of course have the opposite effect.

Incidentally, we had two months off in the summer as children and really enjoyed it. I don't really understand children (special needs excepted) who struggle to entertain themselves or each other and would rather be at school.

I do sympathise with the logistical problems of arranging childcare or other supervision for children in the breaks, but suspect it would be easier in general to get help for say 4 weeks in the summer than odd weeks throughout the year.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 17:22:24

I'd say it goes both ways, minderjinx. DH & I are self employed - half terms are easy in that anything non-urgent can slip for a while, but by the end of 6 weeks everything has become urgent . . .

We get round it with a week's activity in the middle, and are lucky in that there is something that DD likes doing available locally which only costs £25 for the week, I'm sure if you are in London for example that kind of activity is a lot more than 25 quid grin

minderjinx Wed 31-Jul-13 17:35:05

Takver = Yes I can see that too. I suppose the trouble is that one way or another everyone has worked things out to fit the status quo, so any change will probably mess up as many families as it helps!

My own children go to schools in different LA areas, so I do have firsthand experience of school holidays which are often out of sync and it is a pain. So I'd like to see school holidays aligned nationally, rather than going in the opposite direction and letting individual schools decide.

dangly131 Wed 31-Jul-13 17:55:39

I would enjoy doing a summer camp with the children, I enjoy spending time and really getting to know them better and having fun with them. However you do need to take into consideration that some teachers have responsibilities out of school hours - not just their own children but elderly parents, pets, volunteering, clubs they run such as brownies, musical tuition, dance classes, acting classes and hobbies which would all have to be put on hold for the weeks that these run.

I work in a school, and we run a 4 week Summer School programme.
It is a logistical nightmare, because the summer holiday is when the deep cleaning, repainting and essential maintenance is done. This year, we are also having some (much needed) building work done, new toilets added, and moving around classrooms to suit our new curriculum.
This means that our summer school set up is really restricted, as there is wet paint everywhere, the kids are having to use the staff toilets and the contractors are having to be extra vigilant, when really they just want to get on and do their work.

So, obviously it would make no difference to me as I work through much of the holiday anyway, but when would all of this additional maintenance and cleaning be done and when would the site staff and cleaners take their hols?

VileWoman Wed 31-Jul-13 18:14:15

some teachers have responsibilities out of school hours

Just like the rest of us then. I hate to say it but all employers don't really care what you do outside the hours you are suppose to be working (as long as it's legal), and teachers can't claim hobbies are more important than their job, any more than anyone who is expected to work 48 weeks of the year. If you have caring responsibilities then surely they last all year round so unless you are giving up work altogether you must be balancing them against work most of the time.

HSMMaCM Wed 31-Jul-13 18:36:21

I would like each half term to be 2 weeks, so there is more choice of when to take a break away from home.

I am happy for teaching staff to remain on the same wages and work 3 less weeks.

BoneyBackJefferson Wed 31-Jul-13 19:44:56

"I think it's ridiculous that school buildings are left empty whilst some parents struggle to cover childcare or find enough activities to keep kids occupied."

What makes you think that school buildings are unoccupied?


if the "extension activities" are voluntary for the parents/Pupils does that mean that as a teacher I can use your "extra" holidays as work time instead of doing the activities weeks?

MrsSalvoMontalbano Wed 31-Jul-13 19:51:31

Given that this was a suggestion made by the OP for if she were king of the world, depressing that as is predictable on any thread about schools, teachers immediately take a negative view of any interesting idea and assume its all about them, their martyrdom. How about just looking at it completely afresh, from the children's point of view hmm and letting the staffing follow on from that - ie different , fresh, lively, enthusiastic people (students?)could be hired to do the holiday camps...?
(in any case, the education system should not be built around teachers DC anyway, any more than the heath service is shaped around nurses DC, or the legal profession around lawyers DC etc.

dangly131 Wed 31-Jul-13 19:51:57

Vilewoman...a camp would be overnight so in effect all your free time would have to be given up. I am potentially going on a residential 3 days into the new term, I will find out one the first day back. I will have to arrange kennels for my pets, cancel voluntary commitments I have as well as visits to my parents. This is unusual in that we will find out so late due to another member of staff being unable to go and this changing at the last minute. So yes I balance them against work usually but I can't do these when I am 200 miles away for 5 days with 30 children.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 31-Jul-13 19:58:10

We are lucky and can do as we please but are governed by school holidays for extra curricular activities.
So I would give longer at Christmas, at least another week. january is miserable and December is hectic, they need longer here.
Easter is too long, so this could be shorter. Summer holidays is fine but maybe all of July off. Half terms are fine at a week, just long enough.

Samu2 Wed 31-Jul-13 20:09:38

3 weeks for Christmas!

4 weeks for the summer.

EatYourCrusts Wed 31-Jul-13 20:18:57

Extra week in May, extra week in October, taken from the summer.

Hulababy Wed 31-Jul-13 20:23:00

I wouldn't reduce summer holidays. Think 6 weeks is fine as it is. Many children do need it, and, tbh, I have worked in secondary and primary schools - not many children really take long to get back nto the swing of it in September. It isn't that long either - many countries have far longer.

I don't want longer holidays when it is cold and dark - brrr!

Maybe an extra week in May would be good.

Have no issues with schools offering summer camp etc so long as it is not existing teachers/TAs who have to run it - unless they wish to. My DD's primary offered holiday club in the summer holidays, and Easter and other times - for under 8s anyway. Seems good idea.

Hulababy Wed 31-Jul-13 20:26:20

Can't reduce Easter either - need to give parents and teaxhers chance for 2 weeks holidays at some time other than just peak summer times - esp for winter destinations!

If reducing summer - why not just all everyone 10 days to take when they want including staff. That would avoid the nightmare in offices of everyone trying to get their 1-2 weeks holidays in all at the same time in these reduced to 4 week summers.

Takver Wed 31-Jul-13 20:49:16

I like Easter at 2 weeks, wouldn't reduce it - weather is often very good, too.

Actually, I don't want to reduce any of the holidays, just make summer longer and stick a few extra days in to break up the long autumn term.

Hence my suggestion of taking 3 weeks away from term time and making them optional by calling them 'summer camp' grin

thismousebites Wed 31-Jul-13 22:23:24

4 weeks on, 1 week off throughout the year, then 2 weeks at xmas and 3 weeks in the summer.

BeehavingBaby Wed 31-Jul-13 22:29:28

I would like to see a 4 day week spread over 45/6 weeks of the year.

BoneyBackJefferson Wed 31-Jul-13 22:34:40


"teachers immediately take a negative view of any interesting idea and assume its all about them, their martyrdom."

Why is asking if you will be paid more for working more hours martyrdom?

Also, would this mean that as a teacher I could get a choice of holidays?
TBH I would quite like the idea to be able to choose which three weeks I could have off.

But again the "martyrdom" is your prejudice showing.

BeehavingBaby Wed 31-Jul-13 22:53:03

Also like thismousebites idea. A more even distribution in general please.

skyeskyeskye Wed 31-Jul-13 23:05:17

I think that 4 weeks maximum in the summer would be good. Add an extra week onto Christmas and Easter holidays instead

VileWoman Wed 31-Jul-13 23:25:54

Dangly131 I had assumed that summer 'camps' wouldn't be residential, there are plenty of private providers offering residential camps, but the local summer sports camps near me are normal school hours.

But anyway, there are plenty of people who have to travel for work when they have kids so that's hardly an argument for not having residential camps. This is an 'if I was ruler of the world' discussion, not a 'how do current teachers feel about having a change in the structure of their working life' discussion.

Personally I'm with Bugsy's idea, no set 'school holidays' but everyone who attends or works in a school allowed X days of annual leave a year. I'd be happy to reduce the school day to a half day and then let private providers offer childcare in the afternoons. I'm paying a fortune for wrap around care anyway but it doesn't cover holidays so my kids go between school, wrap around care, being at home with me or DH, and then holiday camps/groups. I'd rather there just were a couple of regular childcare providers for the kids to have relationships with, and the problem are the holidays.

I'm not convinced by the 'kids need weeks of downtime' argument for long school holidays, for one thing that only happens if there is a SAHP at home, for kids with parents who work there's no downtime, just another change of routine and carers.

VenusSurprising Thu 01-Aug-13 01:16:11

My DC in primary school gets about 7 months of school a year.
12 weeks summer hols
2 weeks Christmas
2 weeks Easter
1 week in October and
1 week in February.
Plus 4 half days for teacher training/meetings, 2 half days for pt meetings and 5 days off for religious and public holidays.

It all adds up.
But the school is outstanding and 98% of them go on to university.

I think parental involvement is the main factor in educating children, not time spent at the 'chalk face'.

VenusSurprising Thu 01-Aug-13 01:26:46

Should mention that the kids go to the connected school secondary school before they embark to uni!!
Could just imagine them trotting out to uni at 11!! smile :D

PurpleGirly Thu 01-Aug-13 01:37:43

Allowing pupils to have 10 days off whenever in the year would never work - as a teacher there would be a lot of extra work to do 1:1 with each pupil to catch up what was missed. I had three pupils take time off this year in one class ( at different times, all for two weeks). Catch up for each was three two hour after school sessions.

deleted203 Thu 01-Aug-13 02:39:45

Make 'em longer grin. I love the holidays with the kids around.

EvilTwins Thu 01-Aug-13 03:38:10

Can I just point out that those suggesting a "schools open all year round and everyone can choose when to go on holiday" clearly have no idea how schools (at least secondary schools) work?

If I was missing one or two kids from my GCSE class constantly, it would be a nightmare. If I decided to take my 2 weeks (or whatever) then I would have to set cover work for someone else to teach to my classes in my absence. To do so effectively for 2 weeks is incredibly difficult. I don't imagine it would be long before schools had a stream of complaints about it.

And as for the posters suggesting schools should also be covering extras from gardening to dance classes to excursions - that's the stuff I do with my DC, as a parent. I don't want them doing that at school instead, thank you.

Zigster Thu 01-Aug-13 06:37:44

My DSs got over 9 weeks' summer holiday this year from their private school. We're not only putting them in holiday club every other week but also having to make a real effort with them to keep up their studies - they are still young and will have forgotten how to read and write if we don't encourage them.

A summer break of that length is too long. Six weeks would be much better (for them and us).

Naebother Thu 01-Aug-13 07:10:34

I think the current arrangement is good. Children, teachers and schools need the longer summer break to recharge, renew and plan for another busy year.

Holiday clubs should be organised at borough level and means tested so poorer families get free care and food, and the holiday industry should even out the prices for holidays to make things fairer for families with children.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Thu 01-Aug-13 07:44:48

I like the long holiday, mainly because I can remember how much I enjoyed them as a child. I am in an advantageous situation however that I work for myself in a home based business so I don't have too many child care issues.

I wish they would break up slightly earlier before Christmas, but other than that I'm quite happy with the current situation.

Hulababy Thu 01-Aug-13 08:06:55

Dd has longer holidays than me. A week more at Summer, Easter and Christmas plus the odd extra day here and there.

She's just finished primary. Never had any issues at all with forgottig her learning etc and we do very little, if any, work in the summer holidays.

MrButtercat Thu 01-Aug-13 09:02:29

I'd like longer so current system a good compromise.

Would like to see more outstanding quality holiday provision for poorer families and working parents though.

wherearemysocka Thu 01-Aug-13 09:12:44

I do agree that there should be more low cost activities for children during the holidays. It could be a good way for potential student teachers to gain experience.

I don't think the holidays need to be extended though. I would maybe like a week from the summer to be added to the October half term - it is a long slog until Christmas for staff and children.

The 'annual leave' idea just simply wouldn't work. Lessons would be wasted finding out who missed what and catching up. Often teachers don't take days off when they're sick because of the chaos they return to. I dread to think what I'd come back to after ten days!

Tigerblue Thu 01-Aug-13 09:28:09

My daughter enjoys school, but she also loves being at home. Our feet don't touch the ground and we had our first day at home yesterday, so for us a six week break once a year is great. Also, gives the teachers chance to sort classrooms out for the next year, prepare work and have time with their families, especially if they're working all day and then have marking to do in the evenings.

Maggietess Thu 01-Aug-13 10:12:28

In NI we have 8 weeks at summer. Think our half terms etc are shorter than England then though as it's a week at Easter and Halloween.

Don't extend your summer holidays - the first few weeks of July are when the Irish and the Scots get (fractionally) cheaper holidays until the English schools are off grin

Seriously though I think the idea of floating weeks is terrible, never mind the teachers, it would be a disaster for your kids learning. Imagine them coming back in and the child they sit beside knows how to do something that they don't, then they have to catch that up so they're not doing what the majority of the class is doing, how do you have the same homework, measure progress etc?

I like the long summer holiday, it's the best time of year when you've a chance of the kids spending outdoors time. Other times of year you're more likely to have to pay for indoor activities instead of parks, beach etc.
What I'd find much more helpful would be if every school in an area (say a council area) had to have exactly the same holidays. My parents had a total nightmare trying to match up holidays as my sister was at primary school, I was at girls secondary and my brother at boys secondary. They never coordinated half breaks never mind that if you had a son at one you likely had a daughter at the other. Now that's a childcare/holiday planning nightmare!

Astr0naut Thu 01-Aug-13 10:29:18

WHy don't we let kids decide? Kids get to recruit staff, tell them what's good/bad about their lessons and how to improve them, so why not have children decide how many weeks holiday they want?

PostBellumBugsy Thu 01-Aug-13 10:29:29

Eviltwins, I was thinking of looking at education in a completely different way. Starting from scratch & not trying to adapt the current system.

If schools ran all year around, like hospitals or businesses, then you would run them differently. Teaching would be less intensive, so if a child missed 2 weeks, the bits that they missed would be much easier to make up. Clearly, you would hope that in exam years parents would have the sense not to book holidays during exams or in the weeks before exams - but maybe even the exam system could be reconsidered and children took exams when they were ready to take them & not at one set time. Again, that would mean that instead of having to have an army of markers at certain times of the year, who have bugger all to do for the rest of the year, you would deploy them around the year.

Teachers would have the same flexibility as every other working adult to take their holidays when they needed. There would be more teachers, as all the people currently running extra-curricular clubs would become part of the education system. With good planning, you would have teachers to cover each others holiday times in just the same way as you do in any other organisation. You would also refurb and clean the same way you do in other organisations.

I realise it is a bit off the wall - but I think that the education system is so outdated. It is still based on life as it was in Victorian times, not how we live nowadays.

I'd love to see more exciting ideas - given this is just a chat forum. It is not like we are actually going to make the changes!

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 01-Aug-13 10:46:07


I did that as part of a lesson.

The idea that pupils liked the most was : -

The school is open 24/7 53 weeks of the year, teachers run 8 hour shifts, and the pupils turned up to which ever lessons they felt like, BUT they have to do a set amount of hours in each lesson to be able to complete the various modules.

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 01-Aug-13 10:54:12

I should point out as well that 53 weeks is not a typo, they wanted to increase the year so that they could fit more holidays in.

Takver Thu 01-Aug-13 11:41:03

Astr0naut - not holidays, but dd has suggested in the past that she would like longer school days for dc from around yr 5 onwards, from 8.30 - 4.45 say but only 4 days a week so they get a three day weekend.

My original suggestion also came out of a discussion that we had smile

Takver Thu 01-Aug-13 11:43:26

I've also always been very impressed by the Summerhill type model of children choosing which lessons they want to attend.

If I were re-inventing education from scratch (and had plenty of funding!) I would make it compulsory only up to age 13/14, then offer education 'college style' where students sign up for classes as they wish over any number of years to complete their education. So eg they might work stacking shelves for a year or so if they were sick of school, then go back when they were 16.

oscarwilde Thu 01-Aug-13 12:11:10

I would:

Extend the teaching day slightly, and ditch most valueless homework. Teachers don't take work home to mark as a result
Extend the summer holidays for children to 8 weeks and the October half term to two weeks
Adopt the French system where regions have the same holidays. All of London has the same 8 weeks and half terms. Anglia might be a week ahead and the west country a week behind. In practise then, a child in Devon might be on holidays from mid July to mid September.
Teachers would not gain two weeks extra holiday (sorry) but would work for the two weeks as part of a team providing summer school (children not reaching attainment levels) or in-school camps (art, sport etc).
Schools would be closed for 4 straight weeks for maintenance only, while open for the remaining 4 weeks to provide additional teaching/camps.
Teachers choosing to work 4 rather than 2 weeks would get two weeks of extra pay, or two weeks to take at another time of the year.

Astr0naut Thu 01-Aug-13 12:23:02

Oh GOd, anything but a 3 day weekend - my kids are 3 and 1. By SUnday tea-time I'm counting down to work again! Give me 30 apathetic teens over 48 hours of "mummy, Mummy look. Mummy. Mummy you're not looking! Mummy. Mummy, where are you? Mummy, I can;t hear you. Mummy...."

ringaringarosy Thu 01-Aug-13 14:38:47

however many weeks holiday they get,i would break that up into a few 2 or 3 weeks breaks throughout the year,i dont really see the need for so long in one go,i think as a child i would of preffered lots of smaller breaks.

ringaringarosy Thu 01-Aug-13 14:40:19

i am completley against extending the day any longer,if anything i think it should start later and end earlier,i think they would get a ot more out of children,espescially teens in a smaller amount of time.I know that will never happen though as school seems to be more about childcare these days and that wouldnt fit in with adults jobs.

Redlocks30 Thu 01-Aug-13 14:45:04

I would probably leave things as they are! As this thread has demonstrated-one person's 'good idea' would be another person's nightmare scenario! At least with things as they are-we all know what to expect!

PostBellumBugsy Thu 01-Aug-13 15:03:31

The current situation is my nightmare scenario Redlocks!!!

Redlocks30 Thu 01-Aug-13 15:09:31

Ha ha-sorry to hear that! The difficulty is you will always piss somebody off. I would also hate for schools to be run for the benefit of parents and not educating children.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 01-Aug-13 15:24:18

I'm not convinced schools are run for the benefit of children. I think they are run for the benefit of future employers and the Government of the day.

The reason I suggested the greatly extended curriculum and increased time at school is so to help level the playing field. The children with the least adequate parents would benefit most, but I think all children would benefit to some extent.

ringaringarosy Thu 01-Aug-13 19:35:15

If children were required to attend school for any longer id take them out in a heartbeat,their already there too much as it is.

ravenAK Fri 02-Aug-13 01:46:55

I would:

Leave terms pretty much as they are, but capped at 7 weeks. Any longer's painful for students & staff.

Ensure school facilities are used for summer camps etc throughout the summer break. There should be a wide choice of programmes - academic 'enrichment' programmes to stretch the very able, revision/reinforcement for those needing extra help, & sports/fun/useful stuff for those whose parents just want them kept out of mischief whilst they work.

This could include lots of educational trips out for the day, & camping/residentials as well as activities on site.

In the non-academic provision I'd include cooking & everyday life skills eg. operating washing machine, & childcare - pay young parents to come in & help teach this.

Parents should be able to sign up their dc for whichever activities they think would benefit them, with guidance from form tutor, or just 'camp' stuff as childcare.

Fees should reflect use of school premises & paying the staff. However, the scheme should be heavily subsidised for those (Pupil Premium, low-waged parents) who cannot pay the going rate.

The whole thing should be staffed by any teachers who want the 'overtime' (probably younger/childless staff with no commitments, who are skint & looking to tick a few Performance Management boxes ); TAs (& should be a recognised 'point' towards subsequent qualified teacher status if that's what the TA is aiming towards); & post-grad Uni students considering a career in teaching - again, should be recognised as valuable experience to access a PGCE.

Outside providers could also get involved if the demand's there.

Once all this is up & running, it could be extended to the Easter hols/half terms too.

In fact - we already DO quite a lot of the above! But I would like to see it extended such that no child is unable to access meaningful & safe activities over the summer, whilst equally, no child is deprived of a decent 6 week break from formal schooling.

EvilTwins Fri 02-Aug-13 02:08:58

My DTDs, when I need them to, to to a sports camp which takes place at a local secondary school. It is one of at least 3 housed in the same school, but none of the, are organised and run by the school. I don't know of any schools in my town which are NOT used for holiday activities, though in all cases, these are run by independent organisations and are paid for by parents. The school I teach at is running a two week summer literacy camp for those children who are coming up I'm September and need some extra help. This is run by the school and is free to those who have been invited to attend. A second activity, also running for a couple of weeks, and partly staffed by school staff is on, and afaik, that is also free, but also "invitation only".

The issue with schools setting up and running the activities would come down to money. The camp my DDs go to is run by a friend, and it's a full time job for him. He runs camps in 2 locations in all 6 of the school holidays, employs a number of staff, runs a website, deals with marketing, insurance and goodness knows what else. He's also a personal trainer, but the holiday camp business takes up a lot of his time. It's not something that could be tacked on to an existing school employee's workload, and so the money to set things up would have to come from somewhere. Whilst I think Raven's idea is workable, I am highly sceptical that the govt would be willing to provide the initial cash to set it up.

ravenAK Fri 02-Aug-13 02:24:09

Well, but we do have TR3s now precisely for setting stuff up.

I'd want nothing much to do with any of it, tbh, either as a teacher or as a parent - unless someone's offering good money to do a Latin summer school, say - but I have young, ambitious colleagues who'd be very much up for organising the whole provision if it were made worth their while & looked good on a CV.

It's moving increasingly to a business model - schools providing bespoke childcare to paying customers - & I think that's an insidious road to go down, but I can definitely see how you could make it workable on that basis.

MrButtercat Fri 02-Aug-13 07:32:59

Raven I wouldn't be happy with my dc being taught by teachers who have done "overtime" over the holidays.One of the reasons I'm in favour of longer holidays is because teachers(I was one)need them as much as kids.
If they don't then I'd rather they were doing something towards the classes they'll be teaching in September.

Tbh in my experience you could offer silly money but teachers would rather eat their own hair than deal with other people's kids over the hols.grin

thismousebites Fri 02-Aug-13 07:43:54

I like Ravens idea. Trainee teachers or those who are possibly single, childless and full of energy, would be ideal. It would also look good on a CV for anyone needing experience before going onto a PGCE.
We have NOTHING here, the schools don't put anything on over the hols. The leisure centres offer nothing, apart from a holiday club for children up to age 5, and the only thing the local council have on offer is a Real Ale Beer Festival.

MrButtercat Fri 02-Aug-13 08:05:49

Trainee teachers would be good as they could get much needed cash,plan etc.Could have a training course in June,time to plan in July.

Hulababy Fri 02-Aug-13 08:28:27

I think that actually the issue is nothing to do with schools and term times an everything to do with the lack of decent school holiday child are provision. It is the latter which needs to be addressed.

How do other countries deal with it when they have far longer holidays?

mrz Fri 02-Aug-13 09:54:25

School term dates were established in the days when it was unusual for mothers to work outside the home and obviously don't reflect the needs of modern society. Personally I wouldn't want to be the person responsible for school holidays because whatever you decide isn't going to be popular with everyone.

The idea of taking children out for a random 5 weeks a year wouldn't work for teaching/learning purposes - imagine all the gaps in subject knowledge.

Since when did hobbies equal responsibilities?

MiaowTheCat Fri 02-Aug-13 12:58:53

I'd bang together the heads of the City LEA and County LEA here and all the academy school heads and tell them that their current plan of having completely contradictory holidays to everyone else is utter fucking bollocks, causing total bedlam and making life bloody impossible for everyone.

Then I'd bang their heads together again - just because I could.

Next year is going to be a bloodbath with the city schools on a revised term structure, the county schools on the old term structure and the academies doing whatever they randomly feel like in the middle... oh and the next county across is only 1 mile from here as well.

ipadquietly Fri 02-Aug-13 13:38:42

We are one of the only schools to run a holiday club in the local area. It is incredibly difficult to get students and staff to run this ONE club! Goodness knows how you'd recruit enough people to run the clubs in ALL schools!

Not all students want to work with children on a minimum wage. TAs have children of their own. School staff go on holiday at staggered times over the 6 weeks (how could they all cram their holidays into 3 weeks?)

'Fun activities' have to be planned - usually more carefully than a lesson in school, because you have ensure all children are gainfully and appropriately employed (otherwise you will have TROUBLE!!) Who would do all this planning? Who would be supervising?

There is a large children's camp run locally for one week each summer with loads of student/school volunteers. I know for a fact that the organisation takes months and months and months, with a hierarchy of co-ordinators, leaders, etc. It is a massive enterprise!

Redlocks30 Fri 02-Aug-13 15:04:33

I can well understand what iPad quietly is saying-the risk assessment, planning and organisation required for small outings at school are v time consuming and arduous. For weeks of 'fun' activities, they'd be horrific. Who would want to do that for minimum wage? Would it be done well as you can bet your bottom bollar there would parents suing left right and centre if it wasn't! Could you be sure they'd even turn up? CRB checks would also obviously be needed well in advance which would by time consuming and expensive.

Ideally, there would be superbly-planned, organised and fun affordable childcare for all parents who wanted to work but realistically this is just not going to happen. There is no simple solution and whatever changes are made will make life difficult for somebody.

Newcupboards Fri 02-Aug-13 19:02:38

ipad and redlocks - we need more of a "can do" attitude please.

Redlocks30 Fri 02-Aug-13 19:05:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Redlocks30 Fri 02-Aug-13 19:06:07

Just injecting a little realism, sorry.

EvilTwins Fri 02-Aug-13 20:13:13

Bog off newcupboards. Or organise them yourself. As I said up thread, a friend of mine runs holiday camps and it is his full time job. Expecting TAs, teachers or students to organise and run them would be a massive enterprise. Organising one week of activities for our last week of term activities week was enough, thank you.

Newcupboards Fri 02-Aug-13 20:36:30

"Organising one week of activities for our last week of term activities week was enough, thank you."

Yes, I can imagine getting the kids to watch yet another DVD whilst you dismantled your displays before legging it out the school for six weeks of holidays was very taxing, Evil.

Hulababy Fri 02-Aug-13 20:36:38

I'm a TA. I don't want to run them. I don't need the extra money and I have my own child to look after in the holidays thanks! If it isn't compulsory for teachers then it shouldn't be compulsory for anyone!

Hulababy Fri 02-Aug-13 20:37:26

Clearly newcupboards you have not got the faintest idea of how most schools work if you think that is the extent of planning in an activity week!

Newcupboards Fri 02-Aug-13 20:37:30

Apologies; I didn't mean to say "holidays" I meant planning, making resources and general preparation for the coming school year.

ipadquietly Fri 02-Aug-13 20:56:08

These activities realistically take longer to plan because you would have to cater for a range of ages, a range of abilities and a range of activities. You would have to be able to fund all the resources required for three weeks of activities. You would have to keep all children occupied all day, every day, for fifteen days.

How would you deal with SEN children (particularly those assigned 1:1 TAs)? How would you assure all activities are covered by proper first aiders? When (and who) would advertise for holiday staff? Who would do the planning of each activity? What activities would you offer to cater for all children? How would you deal with the varying attendance - taking account of children's holidays and time out with parents? Who would deal with the funding issue for the children with 'vouchers?

'Can do' attitude?
Get real.

BadRoly Fri 02-Aug-13 21:00:32

I would have 4 equal length terms with 3 week holidays between each term. Stick in a long weekend mud term to get up to the 13 weeks holiday we currently get.

Although I'd actually like 4 weeks holiday each time as I rather enjoy the school holidays and don't have to worry about childcare.

Redlocks30 Fri 02-Aug-13 21:14:39

I like the sound of a long-weekend mud term!

mystaplerisevil Fri 02-Aug-13 21:18:09

us poor playworkers are trained to put on playschemes and run holiday activities, am sure the teachers wouldn't want to do our job and we wouldn't want to do theirs!

the summer hols are just about righ, remember there are only four weeks left already!

mystaplerisevil Fri 02-Aug-13 21:18:54

by 'trained' i mean highly qualified!

mystaplerisevil Fri 02-Aug-13 21:23:12

quote :'Ideally, there would be superbly-planned, organised and fun affordable childcare for all parents who wanted to work but realistically this is just not going to happen'

we had this before the tories cut the budgets to local governments. our counties 'play' department was cut completely. the out of school, wraparound care plan was starting to reach fruition quite nicely until cameron et al decided that it wasn't needed.

unplanned long holidays are great as long as children are allowed to take back the time for themselves and are in settings which allow them to just be kids instead of learning this that and the other.

EvilTwins Fri 02-Aug-13 21:45:44

What a twattish thing to say, newcupboards. I would invite you to view the school website for a full report of exactly what went on during activities week, but obviously don't want to out myself. It's ridiculous posts like yours that wind people up and contribute fuck all to discussions like this one.

Grow up.

Newcupboards Fri 02-Aug-13 21:51:51

And telling someone to "bog off" is so grown up, Evil hmm

EvilTwins Fri 02-Aug-13 21:56:12

Whatever (mature)

EvilTwins Fri 02-Aug-13 21:57:12

Would have gone with something stronger, btw, which is what your post deserved, but didn't want to get deleted before I could make my point.

Newcupboards Fri 02-Aug-13 21:58:33

and your point was?

EvilTwins Fri 02-Aug-13 22:02:02

That organising decent holiday activities would take an awful lot more time and effort than some people think and that organising proper (that's right, not DVDs) activities for activities week was enough. Stop being so bloody facetious.

Newcupboards Fri 02-Aug-13 22:06:10

Sorry, Miss (you really can't get out of patronising-teacher mode, can you?)

I appreciate that a lot of organisation would be required to run summer schools but don't think it's an impossible task. Clearly you do.

EvilTwins Fri 02-Aug-13 22:10:58

I don't think it's an impossible task at all - if you bother to read he thread, you will see that I have a friend who does it- as a full time job. My point is that it should not be seen as something that can be tacked onto a teacher or TA's job.

And if you're going to harp on about patronising, I'll refer you to your previous post about "can do" attitudes.

ipadquietly Fri 02-Aug-13 22:20:31

Of course it's not an impossible task newcupboards.

It's more a question of who would:
* plan activities
* produce registers for each activity
* recruit adequately trained staff to run all the activities
* work out how to fund all the activities - each will need a budget
* admin (CRBs, training, vouchers, recruitment, risk assessments)
* ensure SEN and EAL children are appropriately catered for
* Write policies so that parents know what (e.g.) child protection and behaviour management systems are in place

I'm sure I've missed lots of things, but I hope you are reasonable enough to get my drift...

MrButtercat Sat 03-Aug-13 07:34:35

New children would be entitled to quality care as much as any other child in childcare.The amount of work re setting this type of thing up is immense(I've been an Outstanding childminder so know).One of the reasons I gave it up was the paperwork which was a huge task.

Our school has an Outstanding after school club which seems to run several in other schools too.I haven't used it yet but it is highly regarded.Superb people running at from what I've heard.I passed a tribe coming back from our local stream with nets last week and have been impressed with the activities on offer.

I personally think that is the way to go ie a highly regulated company overseeing and managing the paperwork,employing and training staff. Teaching students would be ideal,don't summer camps in the zuSA rely on a lot of student volunteers.

I think setting will vary though and could be an issue.Our school is a lovely purpose built building with a lovely school field,several playgrounds,an environmental area complete with pond,raised beds etc all in the middle of a market town with masses on offer locally and slightly further afield.

When I use childcare after school and in the holidays setting will matter a lot to me and frankly I think an awful lot of school simply aren't suitable.Having said that I think kids from other schools use our club.All parents don't need full time care or even part time or any at all so I don't see why the schools with the best facilities(including private)shouldn't take kids from other schools.

sashh Sat 03-Aug-13 08:38:27

I would put a couple of 'activities' weeks in the school year where children would not attend their usual lessons but learn first aid, produce a play from scratch, try a new musical instrument, do voluntary work, learn a new sport like skiing.

Children whose parents could prove that their child would be doing something equally valuable, skiing, swimming in the sea, sampling foreign food would be allowed to take their children out of school this week to engage in such cultural activities.

Activities weeks would be standard across each LEA but different weeks in different LEAs so that holiday prices would not rise in these weeks.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 03-Aug-13 10:59:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

meditrina Sat 03-Aug-13 11:11:20

Jersey has an 'activities week' for all schools on the island late in the summer term. All schools do the same week, so it must be a nightmare sorting out the bookings, but it is do-able (because they do it, year after year). As it's a week of term time, there are teachers to supervise, and the activities are run by centres which cater for children year-round, so have CP in place anyhow. Now, I can see there might be issues in scaling it up to UK, but I love the concept.

musicalfamily Sat 03-Aug-13 14:27:53

I second school activities weeks too. The children wouldn't have to go to them but they would be a good option for parents who work or simply cannot afford expensive activities or maybe are just unwell.

At the moment I wouldn't use them but life is never predictable.....

lljkk Sat 03-Aug-13 15:14:37

MiaowTheCat is it really changing that much? I predicted very little change because teachers are parents too, and wouldn't want a big mismatch between their work & their own children's timetable. Somewhere I read or heard a story where HT announced school day start of 7:30am and next day 1/3 the staff resigned.

We used to have an activities week (Challenge week). Now it's 1-2 Challenge days each term.

Someone asked about what other countries do; speaking as furrener from where most mothers worked FT from the 1960s+ and kids still had 12 week summer hols: We kids stayed with childminder, live in help or relatives. And then from ~8yrs old we might be at home all day without an adult. Summer camps are huge, too.

MiaowTheCat Sat 03-Aug-13 18:17:44

Around here it's going to be a nightmare - but I'm in Nottingham where the city council are changing the term pattern quite drastically, and I'm on the very thin strip of Nottinghamshire where the county council are keeping their traditional term dates, and Derbyshire where their council are staying to their term dates (often there's a few days disparity between the two anyway - and Derbyshire tried fixed "Easter" a few years back - or as staff were calling it "real Easter" and "fake Easter")... and then throw the academised schools into the mix who seem to be about 50/50 over what they're doing and it's going to be chaos.

Part of me is sad I'm not supply teaching as the mish-mash of holidays would have normally meant I could just jump LEAs as one went onto half term!

Like I say - they all need their bloody heads banging together - especially round here where we must only have about 7-8 miles of the county before hitting the city schools so it's quite easy for people to have kids in different LEA schools.

ravenAK Sat 03-Aug-13 22:09:41

Good points re: logistics.

My post was probably a bit Utopian! grin

teacherandguideleader Sat 03-Aug-13 22:48:45

I would like the summer holidays to be 5 weeks and moved to mostly July rather than mostly August. I wouldn't want shorter than 5 weeks as I give up a week to Guide camp, have a week's holiday and then spend 3 weeks planning for the next school year. If we only had 4 weeks, it would be Guide camp that disappeared which would be a shame for the girls.

I would then have 2 weeks at October, 2 weeks at Christmas, 2 weeks at February and then 2 weeks in the spring. All holidays would be fixed - if Easter didn't fit into the spring break it would be taken as a long weekend. Terms would be an equal length.

At the moment, with terms being unequal, curriculum delivery can be a nightmare. Next year, with my year 10 class I have 3 units of work to deliver. There are 3 terms in the year so it should be easy. But, the autumn term is so long I have to start the 2nd unit in the last couple of weeks of term which is just a nightmare as the children are tired and unfocused.

nooka Sat 03-Aug-13 23:02:30

I live in Canada and we have a longer summer holiday (8 weeks, except for children in years 8 and 9 who get an extra two whilst the kids in 10,11 and 12 have exams), with about the same length at Christmas, no Easter and a week in spring. No half terms and teacher training days scattered around. It equals out to about the same amount of holiday as in the UK, just differently allocated. I think the UK set up is much better!

This summer my dd is going to a week art camp, a week climbing camp, a week musical theatre and a week of acting. Plus two weeks of family holiday, so she gets two weeks to laze around and do her own thing. ds wasn't keen on any of the activities, and many of them only go up to 13 (he is 14, so too old for the science and computer camps that are more his thing) so he has about six weeks of lazing around. Next year he will be expected to get a summer job. dd's best friend had a four week math catch up camp.

The main difference here is that it's not considered an issue for children of 10+ to be home alone, and babysitting courses start at 11.

Personally I really like activity weeks, but I think it's really important that they are not in the usual setting, with the usual children/teachers. It's been incredibly important for dd to spend time with children who share her interests, and she has been really inspired by the actors and artists. Last year they had great fun with the students at the science camp too.

HoikyPoiky Mon 05-Aug-13 22:36:12

I never liked the Canadian school hols. My kids school had 10 week summer holidays sometimes and then a straight run right through to Xmas. By the time Xmas came everyone, including the parents were desperate for a holiday.
South Africa (private schools) have four terms of 10 or 11 weeks with about a month off in December and August and two/three weeks at Easter and October. It's fantastic.

GW297 Tue 06-Aug-13 00:41:11

Miaowthecat - I teach in Nottingham too! Agree with your comments re the bonkers holiday arrangements for all the different LAs and academies! Why, why, why when they want schools to become academies are they messing about with the holidays in the city - totally nonsensical!

MidniteScribbler Tue 06-Aug-13 04:30:17

I agree with utilising the school facilities for holiday care, but disagree with using teachers to staff them. The amount of prep we do is already massive (every hour of the day is scheduled, differentiated, assessed, justified, reflected on). Adding in the planning needed to provide activities for a range of ages and needs, the risk assessments, differentiated, etc, and it's just not logistically possible for classroom teachers in addition to their current workload. I do think that teachers in training should be able to work at them and include the work as part of their accreditation and other workers (such as TAs) should be able to work them if they choose.

I'd love to see private organisations able to tender for the rights to before/after school care and holiday care using local school facilities. The program can be coordinated and managed by legitimate organisations, without putting more pressure on the schools themselves.

MiaowTheCat Tue 06-Aug-13 09:19:18

I agree with utilising the school facilities for holiday care - possible issue with it would be that the schools do tend to need SOME time during the holidays to do things like the holiday deep clean (although with my old school this seemed to involve the cleaning staff doing their usual thing of ignoring the dust and sitting eating biscuits and discussing Ethel down the road's piles for an entire week and then move a couple of bits of furniture slightly and go on dramatically about how busy they'd been!) and lots and lots of maintenance/repair jobs that get done during the summer when the school's empty - things like classroom window replacement, fixing all the bits of varnish the kids have picked off the hall floor over the course of a year's assemblies, carpeting and the like. I know apart from his couple of weeks annual leave in the middle of it all - our old caretaker didn't stop all summer.

MidniteScribbler Tue 06-Aug-13 12:11:47

We usually only access our classrooms during the holidays, and I wouldn't expect those classrooms to be used for holiday care (I'm in there a lot rearranging, cleaning, fixing, setting up, etc), but the main buildings are generally left vacant. Between the hall, undercroft, music room, drama room, library, six playgrounds, large outdoor undercover area (large enough to hold the whole school) and also the church hall which is connected to our school, we could get all the maintenance done and still fit in holiday care.

wordfactory Tue 06-Aug-13 12:41:45

When DC were at prep school, they had around 8 weeks off in the summer.

The school ran a holiday camp for four of those weeks (consecutive), which we only used once,but found fabulous.

It was run by a group of teachers and they split the profit between them, after they had paid for all the help (TAs, gap year students, outside contractors etc).

As I said, the provision was fabulous but it was extremely expensive!

spanieleyes Tue 06-Aug-13 21:30:20

Teacher here pondering the logistics of running a summer club

I have 33 in my class so should be able to have that many in a summer club. grin
£2 per hour sounds cheap to me.
9-3 is 6 hours, so £12 a day, for 33 children, gives me £396 a day
Five days a week gives me £1980 a week.

One weeks summer club would pay for my summer holiday!

Hulababy Tue 06-Aug-13 21:58:10

My school building is only closed for 1 week this summer, when both premises staff are away on their holidays.

Rest of time they are in and the school is open for staff if they wish to work. But primarily it is open for the premises staff to a big deep clean, decorate (paint) walls, hall is being stripped and polished, some new fitted furniture is being fitted in a couple of classrooms. We also have a full building team in building two new external classrooms. For some of this time the playground will be a no go area bar one strict passageway.

I'd make Easter shorter so we could have 2 weeks in May.
I like the summer hols and wish they were longer.

MiaowTheCat Wed 07-Aug-13 09:37:02

Bloody hell Midnite... we had trouble fitting all the kids in - let alone the associated paraphernalia coming WITH all the kids!

Actually if I was Mr Gove the first thing I would do would be to slap myself around the face with a wet pair of underpants... repeatedly - and only get on to school holidays when my skin was red and peeling.

ukjess Wed 07-Aug-13 12:57:38

spaniel eyes,

ahem, Im afraid 900 quid belongs to the tax man.

and say, 600 for building insurance, your insurance, materials, used space, caretaker and receptionist salary contributions.

so its 500 quid for the week... not bad but not as alluring....

MidniteScribbler Thu 08-Aug-13 02:28:14

You can keep Gove MiaowTheCat, we don't want him over here thanks!

We're very lucky in that we've got a very active p&c & we're in one of the wealthier church diocese in our area, so we get a fair bit of money thrown at us. Apparently their new plan is to replace the drama room with a purpose built theatre with stage, changing rooms, music rooms and dance room. Not that I'm complaining, mind you! grin

spanieleyes Thu 08-Aug-13 14:05:21

Sod it, I'm not working in my holidays for £500 a week.

That's me out then!!

littlestgirlguide Thu 08-Aug-13 18:52:27

Spanieleyes, I will run your holiday club for £500 quid a week take home. I get just under £400 a week pre tax currently, in what is actually quite a well paid government job for this area.
(fully qualified and experienced ex-teacher, 20 years in youth group voluntary work!)

soverylucky Fri 09-Aug-13 18:23:23

As a teacher I am at a loss as to what I could offer at a holiday club? I can't do sport, music, drama etc. I could do normal lessons if you want to pay me for that but I think the kids deserve a break.

littlestgirlguide Fri 09-Aug-13 20:57:58

Actually, now I think about it, I already do run a weeks holiday club every summer for 30 kids - for free - its called Guide camp!

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